What are Reproductive Health benefits and why do they matter to your employees?

This article will take you into the world of reproductive health: What exactly is it, and why should employers be providing support?

min read

Our mission at Fertifa is to make reproductive healthcare accessible to as many people as possible.

We know that not everyone is as familiar with reproductive health and what it is as we are and so in this article, we'll take you through the world of reproductive health. What does reproductive health mean? What conditions, symptoms and treatments fall under that term? And most importantly, what role do employers have in providing support and helping employees navigate these often challenging journeys?

So, what exactly is reproductive health? 

Reproductive health is a very broad term that can refer to many different conditions. Put simply, reproductive health refers to the state or condition of either the male or female reproductive systems (the biological systems involved in reproduction). The most common health concerns around reproductive systems (you may be familiar with some of these) include sexual health issues such as transmitted diseases (STDs), infertility, heavy and painful periods or the absence of periods altogether, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, cancers like ovarian, prostate, and cervical cancer, and erectile dysfunction, to name a few.

This wide range of reproductive health conditions has an equally wide range of available treatments. Treatments could be anything from hormone therapy or medication to fertility treatments, surgery, counselling, or lifestyle adjustments.

Why is reproductive health support at work so important?

Every reproductive health journey is unique, and shaped by individual experiences and challenges. No two people will have the same needs, and it's impossible to leave these challenges at home when you go to work. That's why having support from employers is crucial – so that you can bring your best self to work, and know that you don't need to hide what you're going through.

Employers play a big role in providing emotional, financial, and structural support for employees to help them work through their reproductive health challenges and get back to their best and happiest selves.

We’ll go into more detail on why there is such a need for workplace support and we'll also show you how much more difficult reproductive health journeys can be for people without it.

If you are looking for practical steps, guidance, proven strategies, or simply ideas on how to support your employees with their reproductive health, please take a look at our HR guides and resources or book a call with a member of the Fertifa team – we're always happy to help!

Employee wellbeing

The physical and mental wellbeing of employees should be a priority at every company.

Knowing the negative impacts reproductive health issues can have on someone's life, it's crucial to make sure that people going through these challenges have the support they need, not only at home but also in the workplace. Building these supportive networks will create an environment where everyone feels valued and cared for.

Below are some statistics that help put the importance of workplace support into perspective:

       8 in 10 menopausal women are in work despite symptoms lasting up to 15 years

Every individual with a female reproductive system will go through menopause at some point, and most will continue to work during this phase of life. Menopause symptoms include brain fog, poor concentration, hot flushes, insomnia, and many more that are likely to significantly impact their wellbeing and performance at work. Without some form of support from employers, menopausal employees have no choice but to face their symptoms alone. This can be distressing and overwhelming, and can affect their overall wellbeing.

       20% of women say menopause symptoms hurt their career progression

To be inhibited in your career by a biological change you cannot control is completely unfair. Whether it’s counselling, sexual health services, access to treatment, resources and education, or simply raising awareness around menstrual health in the office, workplace support and access to medical care can help make sure that people going through menopause are not held back in their careers.

       People with endometriosis take up to 20 sick days per year, and 1 in 6 give up work because of the condition

The effects of endometriosis can be severe, forcing employees to take large parts of the year off or leave their jobs altogether. Workplace support for people suffering from endometriosis can make all the difference to the wellbeing and health of women, and potentially help them reach a position where they can not only come in to work, but feel comfortable doing so.

       29% of women who experienced pregnancy loss had symptoms of post-traumatic stress, with 18% still having post-traumatic stress 9 months later

Pregnancy loss, or baby loss, is a tragedy. It can have considerable impacts on mental health and wellbeing regardless of when and at what stage it takes place. Post-traumatic stress is a serious condition and just one of many mental health issues that can be brought on by pregnancy loss. To prepare for this, employers can offer access to antenatal care services for pregnant employees. They can also signpost towards contraceptive services and provide access to family planning support.

       72% of people say fertility issues highly impacted their working life

Whether you are having trouble conceiving or going through treatment, fertility journeys can impact wellbeing both at home and in the workplace. People need support from their employers. This doesn’t have to be financial, but access to resources, support services, family planning services and a safe workplace environment where people feel like they can share their struggles can make all the difference. 

       40% of men don’t talk about their mental health

Men are often reluctant to open up about their mental health. Unfortunately, it’s a similar story when it comes to men’s health issues and their wellbeing. You can never force someone to share, but continuous reassurance that employees are supported and signposting to relevant reproductive health services can encourage men to seek the support they need.

       80% of execs stated that wellbeing was a 'top priority', whilst 90% of workers feel 'work life is getting worse'

       37% of people believe HR is more interested in advocating for their company than they are for them

Although some companies are amazing at providing employees with the support and care they need, many can still do so much more. Employees still feel unsupported with their wellbeing, and a lot of the workplace support offered simply doesn't meet their needs.

Other benefits to consider

There are many reasons why workplace support is important from a business perspective. Reproductive health support helps companies attract and retain top talent, boost productivity and performance, and diversify their workforce. At Fertifa, we strongly believe employer-led reproductive healthcare should first and foremost serve employee health and wellbeing, and that any positive business impacts a company might see are considered a bonus.

Attraction and retention

Every year, companies are seeing employees leave because they don't feel supported enough to continue working while they're on their reproductive health journeys. Whether it's employees suffering from menopause symptoms, starting fertility treatment, or dealing with any other reproductive health issues, the strain can make it tough to carry on with work as usual.

       10% of women leave their jobs due to menopause symptoms

       42% of menopausal women consider leaving work

      70%  of millennials are willing to change jobs for fertility benefits

      38% of people who were undergoing fertility treatment considered quitting their jobs

Check out this article on retaining female employees if you're looking for advice and practical steps on how to improve attraction and retention at your company.

Productivity and performance

Reproductive health issues can have anywhere from mild to severe negative impacts on performance at work. When employees feel supported in managing their reproductive health, they are more likely to be productive, engaged, and feel genuinely happy in their roles.

       47% of menopausal women will experience low concentration

       63% of menopausal women said that their symptoms are negatively impacting their work

      Period pain/menstrual symptoms lead to 9 days lost productivity for women each year

The link between reproductive health support and job performance shouldn't be surprising. Remember, the most effective way to get the most out of your team is through meaningful support, and this includes their reproductive health.

Diversity and inclusion

Biases and prejudices such as ethnic or gender inequality still exist in many workplaces. Reproductive health support can help you diversify your workforce, demonstrate your commitment to inclusion, and establish your company as a destination employer for marginalised demographics with specific needs (for example single people or LGBTQ+ individuals).

How can you support your employees through their reproductive health journeys?

If you're looking for practical steps, guidance, proven wellbeing strategies, or simply ideas and inspiration on how to support your employees with their reproductive health benefits, take a look at our HR guides and resources or book a call with a member of the Fertifa team – we'd love to work with you.